Those looking for the best view of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon in Tioga County typically head to the overlooks in Leonard Harrison State Park and Colton Point State Park. And, without a doubt, both of these parks offer phenomenal vistas. However, in my opinion, the best, easily-accessible spot from which to view the PA Grand Canyon is on the Barbour Rock Trail.
The Barbour Rock Trail is located on the western rim of the canyon in Tioga State Forest. If you are driving to the park from Wellsboro and Route 6, you’ll come to the parking area for this trail a short distance prior to reaching Colton Point State Park.
The Barbour Rock Trail is either half a mile or seven-tenth of a mile long, depending on whether you travel along the original trail or the handicapped-accessible one (See below for a few notes about the accessibility of this trail). Both trails pass through a beautiful second-growth forest on their way to the rim.
While there are a variety of vistas along the trail, the highlight is the view from Barbour Rock. This sandstone outcropping features one of the best views you’ll find anywhere, and certainly the best of the easy-to-reach and handicapped accessible views at the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.
From Barbour Rock, there’s an amazing view looking south through the canyon, giving you an idea how immense the gorge really is. At this point, it’s almost 850 feet down to Pine Creek at the base.
If you look closely, you might even be able to see the Pine Creek Rail Trail far below and bicyclists traveling on this amazing trail.
When enjoying the view from here, make sure to use extreme caution as the cliffs below the rock drop far into the gorge. In some places, a wooden rail fence has been set up, but in other spots, there’s nothing to stop you from going over the edge.
Barbour Rock is probably the best spot in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon to view sunrise as it provides both a great vista to the east and is relatively easy to reach.
However, no matter what time of day you visit the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, don’t miss the short hike on the Barbour Rock Trail in Tioga State Forest. You definitely don’t want to miss this view.
How to Get to Barbour Rock
The Barbour Rock Trail starts along Colton Road. This is a well-maintained dirt road, but is not maintained during the winter months.
The two parking areas (one on either side of the road) are located 3.1 miles from Route 6. They can be found at the following coordinates: 41.723338, -77.455741. Note that if you reach the entrance to Colton Point State Park that you’ve gone too far.
From here, there is a wide and flat trail and a more traditional trail that both go to Barbour Rock and are roughly the same distance. If possible, I’d recommend taking the wide trail to Barbour Rock, and then returning via the other trail.
While this adds a few tenths of a mile to the hike, it also offers the chance to see the several unnamed and unmarked vistas along the handicapped-accessible trail. You could also make this a 2.5-3 mile hike by adding in portions of the Bear Run Trail (which leaves from the parking lot opposite the Barbour Rock trailhead) and the West Rim Trail. You can see a trail map here.
The wide trail to Barbour Rock is listed as handicapped accessible. However, according to the official trail brochure, wheelchairs should have pneumatic tires as rubber tires can have a bit of a problem with the path. It’s also worth noting that the trail has an average grade of 3%, but goes up to 6% in places. Motorized wheelchairs are allowed on the trail.